AndyHat (andyhat) wrote,

It was quite nice to be home for the weekend after two weeks away. Sadie insisted on many hours of petting, belly rubbing and ear scratching to make up for my extended absence.

I did have to waste several hours on Saturday sending out change of address notices. The city of Raleigh arbitrarily decided that the mall in which my box is located needs to have a new address. I put off doing anything about it for the month since I received the notice, but now that they've actually painted the new address on the building, I figured I should start using it. I hope the old address keeps working for a while, though, as I'm sure I missed a lot of the less frequent magazines I subscribe to. Anyhow, for anyone who needs it, the new mailing address is:

Andrew Hatchell
13200 Strickland Rd
Ste 114 PMB 333
Raleigh, NC 27613-5245

Weekend reading:

  • Novellas
    • Williams, Walter Jon. "The Green Leopard Plague". Asimov's 10-11/03.
      • Michelle lives alone on a tropical island studying the local fish, for which purpose she is inhabiting a body complete with wings that act as fins and include gills facilitating underwater exploration. Her boyfriend died several months earlier, though he continues to email her, and she cherishes her isolation. To earn some extra income, she also accepts contracts to do research, and in this story she is hired to investigate a three-week span during which the philosopher Terzien was missing just prior to giving a paper outlining the basis of the economy on which Michelle's world is based. The research, of course, is conducted entirely online using a variety of search agents against the huge store of personal photographs, videos, and other archives that have found there way online by Michelle's time. She uncovers the fact that Terzien was witness to a murder in Paris, and that he met a woman there with whom he travelled around Europe. Which is about all I can say without getting into spoilers. Michelle herself is a somewhat disappointingly wooden character (though she does turn out to have a rather surprising nasty streak), but Terzien and Stephanie are nicely developed. The plot with Terzien is also far more interesting than the frame story with Michelle; while Michelle's plot was perhaps necessary to show the implications of what Terzien and Stephanie do, I could have done with less of her story. I also found the economics in the story rather dubious. So, it's a good but not great story.

  • Novelettes
    • Blaylock, James P. "The Trismegistus Club". In for a Penny.
      • Ian Henley owns an antiquarian bookshop in an English village. He's a widower with a bad heart, but he knows nothing other than running the shop, so he goes on doing it, accompanied by his cockatoo and a stray dog he picked up a few weeks ago. But then he starts to notice things out of place in the shop. He initially thinks maybe it's his memory, but when one night the cockatoo shouts out "Ghosts!" he doesn't dismiss the idea. Not the most original plot, but Blaylock turns it into a wonderful story. Blaylock's skills at characterization are amazing; even the dog and the cockatoo are more memorable characters than the protagonists of many stories. The genial, mischievous ghosts of the Trismegistus Club, tied for a time to the shop by the book collections Henley acquired at their estate sales, are an immensely likeable bunch; it's a club that Henley will be lucky to join. A great story.

    • Hodge, Brian. "With Acknowledgements to Sun Tzu". The Third Alternative #33.
      • Our narrator is a photojournalist specializing in capturing scenes of war-torn cities. He travels to Baghrada (as far as I know, a fictional city), which is in the middle of one of the Balkan conflicts. There he meets up with his fellow journalists from previous wars, but especially Midori, with whom he is at least a little in love. While in Baghrada, he interviews an enemy colonel who suggests that they have more in common than he might think; they both understand the aesthetics of human conflict. This is a very nicely done take on the ethics of war journalism and the nature of evil that drives man both to war and to document the atrocities of war. While it would have been nice to see the relationship between the narrator and Midori more fully developed before the end, the story is compellingly written and quite disturbing.

    • Irvine, Alex. "Shepherded by Galatea". Asimov's 3/03.
      • Our narrator is a gas mole, a pilot specializing in guiding his one-man craft down into the atmosphere of Neptune to capture diamonds thrown up from its massively high-pressure depths. Neptunian diamonds fetch a fortune back on earth, but this quarter, he's had trouble finding enough to even cover the expenses of the dips into the Neptunian gravity well. And, of course, back on base, his ex-girlfriend is trying to be helpful, but he doesn't want her help. This is very much an idea story, with fairly uninteresting stock characters. The depictions of the wild rides into Neptune's ferociously violent atmosphere are pretty cool, but there's not much else to the story.

  • Short Stories
    • Kaysen, Daniel. "...What a Spaceman's Gotta Do". Strange Horizons 2/3/03.
      • Dina has just been dumped by her boyfriend, is heavier than she wants to be, is not the world-famous novelist she'd expected to be, and now it's time for her high school reunion. The morning of the reunion, she meets Zirk, who claims to be from an asteroid and who makes rather bizarre pronouncements about the future. But he's handsome, and that's all she needs to invite him to the reunion as her date. Obviously, this is a comedy which doesn't take itself the least bit seriously. I found myself laughing at several points in the story, and that's all I can really ask from a work like this.

    • Laidlaw, Marc. "Cell Call". By Moonlight Only.
      • Driving home, he (the unnamed protagonist) receives a call on his newly and reluctantly acquired cell phone. Fiddling around with his jacket in the seat beside him to reach the phone, he glances away from the road while making a turn, and before he knows it, he's on an unfamiliar street. I was a bit disappointed with the obviousness of the plot from there, but the story is competently done and reasonably engaging for its short length.

    • Lee, Mary Soon. "Immigrants". The Third Alternative #33.
      • Sometime in the future, Western nations have sealed their borders against third-world immigration. Ms. Yuan is a Thai applicant who scored highly on the INS's intelligence test, and is thus one of the privileged few to be offered citizenship in the US, but then she mysteriously turns down the offer. Bill has been sent to Thailand to meet with her and offer her incentives to come to the US. But once there, he finds that Ms. Yuan has accepted an offer that the US simply can't match. This is fairly amusing take on possible trends in globalization, even if it does strike me as rather implausible. However, I thought it was far too short; the ending comes up quite abruptly before much of the story's background has any chance to be developed in the plot, making this feel more like a teaser for a novel than a full story in its own right.

    • McBride, Sally. "Pick My Bones with Whispers". Asimov's 1/03.
      • Lizbeth is a child in a far future society where most adults have integrated themselves with Fulnet, leaving their bodies behind. She, too, expects to have and raise a child and then leave her mortal body behind as well. But then, on a field trip to an alien planet, her life is threatened. This is a reasonably exciting story, and Lizbeth's mentor/companion/dog/AI Fritz is a cute character, but ultimately it's a fairly commonplace take on virtual reality.

  • Novels
    • Case, David. "Jimmy". By Moonlight Only.
      • This is a short novel (around 60,000 words), which is highly unusual in an anthology. The author's notes indicate it was written around 1980, but remained unpublished when his agent advised that it would likely be offensive to feminists. Which is probably still true, but the sometimes dinosaur-like views of the characters in the story seem reasonably appropriate to the place and time (a small redneck mountain town in the early 70's). April, a young woman, is walking through the woods when she steps in an old forgotten bear trap. Calling out for help, someone, or something, approaches, but not to help. April survives the attack thanks to a townperson's arrival, but not before she has been raped by something not quite human. As one might expect in a story like this, the town harbors a misanthropic scientist, a couple whose only child supposedly died at birth but for whom there's no death certificate, and a bunch of hunters eager to track down something more interesting than deer. And, of course, there's the love interest, as Valeria and John, summoned to town as April's presumed parents (she was carrying their missing daughter's ID), separated several years before (Valeria was a "liberated" woman; John didn't understand), reestablish contact while searching for their daughter. It all boils down to your basic scary-creature-in-the-woods story, but with a lot of digressions to make the tension last longer. The story is well-enough told that it kept me in my chair for its entire length, but in the end, neither the plot nor the characters are particularly original or memorable.


  • (no subject)

    The Hilliard Ensemble concert tonight was excellent, and definitely worth the drive to Duke Chapel in the snow. Turns out that this 40th anniversary…

  • (no subject)

    The past few weeks have been spent playing entirely too much Lego Marvel Super Heroes and Assassin's Creed IV (finished the main story in both,…

  • Hobbitting

    Tonight was Part 2 of the Hobbit at Marbles Imax in 3D, the 3D being entirely unnecessary for this film but the Imax being quite necessary to fully…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded